Artist: The Sonics
Album: Here Are The Sonics!!!!
Song Notes: Thirteen Ugly Children Roll Gutterballs: For the past couple weeks, I've kind of gone away from ROCK, and I thought I'd remedy that with some samples of The Fabulous Sounds Of The Pacific Northwest. I've mentioned The Young Fresh Fellows here before—so, if you want a rundown on the band, check that out. This cut comes from the very rare CD Gleich Jetzt, which according to Babelfish means "Equivalent Now" (Among others, including "Right Now", which is probably the correct translation). "On Your Hands" is really rocking, but I mainly chose it because I figure more folks might know this one as a The Fastbacks song, rather than a Fellows song (Fellows-related crossover has happened before; Scott McCaughey's other band, The Minus 5, has also performed "I'm Not Bitter" on the Down With Wilco album, which originally appeared on a Fellows 7", and I believe the Fellows have also performed the Minus 5's "Find A Finger" as well; however, I can't think of another Kurt song that both the Fellows and the Fastbacks have done) -- the Fastbacks' version was on Answer the Phone, Dummy. Still, though, if this album weren't so rare and hard to find (it's an out-of-print-by-like-over-a-decade Japanese-only release), I'd recommend it for any Fastbacks fans who were wondering where to start with the Fellows; it's the most Fastbacks-y of all the Fellows' stuff. And it works great.
As for The Sonics, they were a huge influence on the Fellows and, well, rock music in general. They were a combo from the mid 1960s from Tacoma, WA—these cuts both come from Here Are The Sonics!!!!, the 1965 LP debut. Gerry Roslie is often credited as being the first white rock'n'roller to scream on the records, and The Sonics are often called the first punk band. The albums are very, very rough sounding, but therein lies the energy and greatness of them. The songs are simple and incredibly catchy. These two songs pretty much find themselves constantly lodged in my head. "Strychnine" is one of my favorite songs of the moment, in fact, and "Boss Hoss" is a close contender. A lot of folks have covered "Strychnine", actually -- The Cramps, The Fall, and The Minus 5. In fact, the Sonics were so influential to Scott McCaughey and The Young Fresh Fellows (who themselves have covered in the neighborhood of 3 or 4 different Sonics songs), that Scott recorded an album with some other local musicians (produced by Kurt Bloch) as "The New Strychnines". Even though they did have quite a following—especially in the Pacific Northwest, but also outside (for example, both They Might Be Giants and Belle & Sebastian (!) have covered "Santa Claus") the area—they're not a particularly known band outside of music geeks. Which is too bad, as they were really something special. - Rev. Syung Myung Me
Dub Club: Matt's 2005 Best Of -- Streets Named For New England Trees: After a very long time, I've finally decided to check out the Sonics. It's shocking I'd been unaware of them for so long—they're local, ferchrissake. 'Course, it took me a long time to realize how good The Young Fresh Fellows were, too, and they're sort of the Alpha And Omega when it comes to rockin' local music. But, of course, I've got the Fellows to thank for getting me into a lot of cool stuff -- The Fastbacks, Sgt. Major, Visqueen, The Posies (though those two were more Aila) and finally the Sonics. Wow. This is still probably my favorite Sonics song, but there're so many good ones. Also, on the bonus cuts on The Day They Shot A Hole In The Jesus Egg, The Flaming Lips do an awesome cover of this song which segues very well into "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding" by Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello. - Rev. Syung Myung Me